A living trust will avoid the worst at death. Picture this, your main bank account is only owned in the name of your spouse. It was set up this way because when he went to the bank you were not able to make it. For convenience it was put in his name so that he did not have to make another trip and the banker said that you could easily be added if you stopped in the branch.
You were planning to but had not made it in yet. You did not handle the finances or pay the bills so it was not a high priority.
Now your husband has died and the mortgage is due, the credit card bill is due along with the utilities. The bank says you can not write checks and the account is frozen because your husband was the only owner of the account and he is deceased. The bank said a living trust will avoid this but you had not taken the time to create one. Your attorney tells you the only way to get at the money is by doing a probate. She says this will cost around $ 5000 and take over a year.
Does this sound like a nightmare. It is and is exactly what happened to one of my law clients recently. Their liquid assets were held in an account that was in the name of the husband only. He did all the financial work for the family and after all, he was only 54. He had plenty of years to get his financial affairs in order. The spouse was lucky because she could borrow money from her children to pay the bills until the probate was commuted but it still took over six weeks to get an initial court date.
To avoid this scenario you can hold your assets jointly but the probate will still occur upon the death of the second spouse. A living trust will avoid a probate and is a good choice for your estate planning documents. If my clients had a trust, there would have been no need to pay me $ 5000 for the probate and the surviving spouse could have paid all of the bills immediately.
Our suggestion is to search the internet for information on living trusts. Google the phrase in quotes "living trust e-course" for free information. Using a living trust will give you the best estate planning for during your life and after your death.